Brick by Brick -The Brickworks, an environmental work of art


If you haven’t stopped off at evergreen Brickworks on your way up or down the Don Valley Parkway, make a special visit so you can get to know it before the hordes arrive for spring/summer weekend family picnics and walks!!
This is a year-round treasure trove for a country day out in urban Toronto. Grab your kids, your dog, your loved ones or just strap on your sandals (or wellies depending on the time of year) and bring yourself.
And know that whilst you are in the “Brickworks” you are supporting a prime Eco urban regeneration site – Canada’s first large-scale community environmental centre and a global showcase for environmental innovation and urban sustainability.
The not for profit Evergreen is a national charity that makes cities more livable and the Brickworks is a testament to their success. Evergreen’s focus has been the site’s 16 historic factory buildings comprising a collection of brick structures from the early 1900s and industrial sheds from the 1950s. These have been revitalized through a process called “adaptive re-use.”
Housed behind the superb “Belong” restaurant/cafe is a “low-rise” reclaimed and rising out of the ashes (as it were) of the original brickworks kiln area and containing a community environmental centre with programs that celebrate the site’s unique geological, industrial and natural heritage; offices for “green” businesses.
“Belong” serves organic, local, sustainable and responsibly sourced ingredients, many of which comes from the farmers market that runs every Saturday morning. Great for brunch; a hearty evening meal or simply for on-the-hoof coffee (espressos etc) and freshly baked warm from the oven cookies and scones baked on-site.
Inspired imaginative art work is all around you: Visible from the car park, a map of Toronto made from recycled metal with herbs and shrubs growing in to represent the ravines that split Toronto into three sections; inside the kiln building, a screen made of recycled cans: brick carts as coffee tables: purposeful graffiti etched onto the expanses of brick walls surrounding the original banks of kilns. Outside a secret garden with tepees, metal flowers, chalkboard wall,, clay oven, brightly colored metal trash flower holders. Whichever direction you look on you will find another clever piece of recycled creativity. An antique market runs most Sundays in one of the industrial sheds.
And all this before you get to the wetlands board walk; say hello to the two turtles that inhabit the ex quarry or scale the quarry rim to walk around the edge and join one of the Ravine trails perhaps.
Some background: Between 1889 and the 1980s the Don Valley Brick Works was one of Canada’s pre-eminent brickyards. At its zenith it was producing more than 43 million bricks a year used in the construction of homes and buildings across Canada. Many of Toronto’s most prominent buildings were made from Don Valley brick; i.e. Massey Hall and Old City Hall. In the late 1980s the site was expropriated by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), backed by the Province of Ontario. Acquired for public use because of its geological and brick-making heritage, and for its location in the lower Don River watershed, the site’s quarry was recognized by the Province as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. In 2002, the site’s buildings were designated by the City of Toronto under the Ontario Heritage Act.
In 2010, Evergreen Brick Works was named by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 10 geotourism destinations.
Cafe Belong Catering
Over and Out

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